A Rarely Seen Complete Set of these Famous and Lovely Colored Plates of Pompeii


(Zurich: by the author and Henry Fuessli and Comp. 1824-25). 445 x 325 mm. (17 1/2 x 12 3/4"). [26] leaves of descriptive text. Lacking title page and dedication.Commentary by art historian Johann Jacob Horner. FIRST EDITION.

Modern tan half morocco over olive green buckram, raised bands, spine panels with gilt ornament, red morocco label. 24 FINE AQUATINT VIEWS COLORED BY A CONTEMPORARY HAND. Brunet III, 357. ◆Text pages variably foxed (from a little to very), but (somehow) THE LOVELY PLATES IN FINE, CLEAN CONDITION--fresh and bright with pleasing coloring, in an unworn, sympathetic binding.

This is a rare complete colored set of Hüber's famed views of Pompeii, much sought-after by armchair travellers after excavations uncovered that urban time capsule in the late 18th century. The German-born Hüber (1787-1871) settled in Naples in his early 20s, studying landscape painting with Dutch émigré painter Jacob Philipp Hackert (1737-1807), who was known for his lush scenes, often featuring ruins. His arrival in the region coincided with the occupation of Naples by the French, who accelerated the excavations underway at Pomepii, which had been buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. The rapid burial of the city in volcanic ash had captured a moment in time, and the opportunity to see a well-preserved example of life in the ancient Roman Empire caught in medias res drew eager travellers on the Grand Tour of the Continent. Hüber's well-executed views often picture these tourists, and their contemporary dress contrasts sharply with the classical ruins. Lord Napier, in his "Notes on Modern Painting at Naples" (1855), credits Hüber for introducing the use of watercolors to the meticulously drawn landscapes then being produced. This innovation is displayed in the hand-colored plates here, which were also issued in uncolored state. Napier was correct to appreciate the value of adding colors, which increases both the drama of the views and the pleasure of the viewer. Because the attractive sets with color were often broken up, complete volumes of the colored plates are rarely seen for sale: we could trace just three such copies sold at auction as listed in RBH and ABPC (the two best ones were the Feltrinelli copy, which sold for $14,330 in 2001 and the Donaueschingen copy, fetching $13,750 in 2014). Ours does not have the distinguished provenance attached to those copies, and it lacks two preliminary leaves, but the text is present, and, most important, the lovely colored plates are in fine condition.

Price: $15,000.00